Estonia's adoption of a new constitution in June 1992 was one of the fastest institutional transformations of post-communist Eastern Europe. 1 However, the ten-month transition itself did not come easily. It began in August 1991 with a 'miracle compromise' between the country's two main political forces at the time, the Supreme Council and the Congress of Estonia, to convene a Constitutional Assembly. It was slowed in early 1992 for several months as debates raged over such things as direct presidential elections and the political rights of former communist officials. And it ended with one group of Estonian politicians still adamantly calling for an alternative solution, the resurrection of a semipresidentialist and fairly authoritarian Constitution from 1938.
Yet, despite all these perturbations, the process of political change in Estonia during 1991-2 remained on the whole steady. The rapid decision to create a Constitutional Assembly and the comprehensiveness of the new Basic Law both evidenced a desire to structure the new politics of independence as effectively and securely as possible. In the years since, this 'positive' work of Estonia's framers has paid off in the consolidation of a parliamentary democracy. All of the major institutions of Estonia's new political system have been tested, and each has proved its initial viability. However, political determination in terms of institution-building can